Ban says global crisis threatens to undo all U.N.'s work

Other News Materials 25 October 2008 07:06 (UTC +04:00)

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned his top lieutenants on Friday that the global financial crisis jeopardized everything the United Nations has done to help the world's poor and hungry, Reuters reported.

"It threatens to undermine all our achievements and all our progress," Ban told a meeting of U.N. agency chiefs devoted to the crisis. "Our progress in eradicating poverty and disease. Our efforts to fight climate change and promote development. To ensure that people have enough to eat."

At a meeting also attended by the heads of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Ban said the credit crunch that has stunned markets worldwide compounded the food crisis, the energy crisis and Africa's development crisis.

"It could be the final blow that many of the poorest of the world's poor simply cannot survive," he added, in one of his bleakest assessments of the impact of the financial turmoil.

In a statement after the meeting, Ban picked up a theme he has stressed since the crisis erupted last month, that it should not be allowed to hit hardest "those least responsible" -- the poor in developing countries.

The U.N. chief told reporters he would put that case to a financial summit in Washington on November 15 by U.S. called by President George W. Bush.

Ban has been invited to that gathering along with leaders of the G20 -- the Group of Seven top industrial democracies and key emerging economies.

"As secretary-general I am going to emphasise, as I have been doing in the past, to ask the world leaders to give priority in addressing the challenges of developing countries," he said.

Ban said it was important that, despite the world economic downturn, the United Nations continue to pursue its so-called Millennium Development Goals -- eight targets for slashing poverty, hunger and disease by 2015.

He also said the world must persist with efforts to tackle climate change through two major conferences over the next 15 months, and he called on rich countries to keep up their overseas aid despite domestic financial woes.

In a statement, the U.N. chiefs promised "proactive leadership" to ensure a "coordinated and comprehensive response on trade, development, employment, finance, humanitarian assistance, environment and the protection of global goods and norms."

They also pledged to support a "meaningful, comprehensive and well-coordinated reform of the international financial system," but offered no specifics on what this should entail.